Sheltering… Masks? Hell, yes.

The mask protects the vulnerable and in settings where one can’t social distance, masks should be mandatory. They are a little uncomfortable. For me, it was a bit like hiding under the covers in bed and breathing in your own moist exhalations and sweat.

Me.

The advantages? Take a look at the picture. The mask hides so many ‘imperfections.’ Wrinkles?? A few by the eyes and on the forehead but hey, I could just be serious. Jowls? Surely you jest, none in sight. Don’t look at the neck. The glasses help disguise laugh lines (so much gentler than calling them crow’s feet.)

The masks don’t have to be plain, disposable surgical masks like the one I’m sporting. For the fashion maven, they are the new accessory. Companies and individuals have leapt into the void and you can order cloth masks in any colour and with a variety of prints, pictures, or personal cartoons. I believe some clothing companies have matching masks for popular outfits.

I haven’t been much of a clothes horse for quite a number of years. Too many structures, ‘go south.’ You have to pair age of face with outfits that aren’t too avant garde and comfort is more important than it once was. But if wearing a mask protects others and makes me look good, win-win. Stay safe, stay home, but if you’re out and about, wear a mask.

Sheltering…Forbidden Fruit

“I don’t even normally go out much. But now that I can’t, I really want to.”

That’s a quote from a phone conversation I had with a former colleague a couple of days ago. We had settled the reason for the call and carried on into a general catching up. A lot of the conversation centred on the pandemic and that’s natural.

Her comment got me thinking about what things I would like to do but shouldn’t right now. I’m not talking about family and friends. Missing them goes without saying. Lately I have caught myself in nostalgic reminisces of shopping for groceries at the local Coop.

What!!?? Who am I kidding? I never enjoyed getting the supplies for the next week. It’s a chore and one that Gary had taken over, shopping as I’ve mentioned in the European manner, a little every day. That doesn’t work in these COVID-19 days and so we order once a week and if we don’t have something, we go without. There is no explanation for the pleasure at unpacking the delivery when it arrives.

In my ahem, later years, shopping has lost most of its charm. Wandering around and examining merchandise I don’t need had become far less attractive but suddenly, I would like to “look around.” A definite no-no. Even with the lockdown lifting somewhat, browsing isn’t the way to go.

Some of it is the human contact. Whenever I was “downtown” on some errand, I’d run into a neighbour, friend, acquaintance. Now if I see someone when I”m walking the dogs, even someone I’d avoid in normal times, I’m waving and calling hello.

Times are not normal and I’ll have to adjust. It’s not bad for me. I’m not sick and none of my family or friends is. I’m not working on frontlines and neither are they. I’m inconvenienced and tempted to ‘bend the rules.’ I’m resisting and recognizing that some of my longing is related to being told I “can’t.” So resist, stay home and stay safe.

Sheltering- The Stay Home Nazi

I walked into the yard with my dogs yesterday and my husband arrived from his truck, hands in the air, saying, “I only drove by. I didn’t go into any stores.”

I admit to being adamant in my directions about avoiding other people. I follow my own rules and have cajoled and scared my husband into honouring them, too. Our groceries are delivered, one of us goes into a store, our drives into the country are into the boonies. So far into the boonies, that if the truck broke down, that’s where our bleached bones would be eventually found.

I can be mean.

Nazi or not, the isolation is wearing on everyone. A painting friend texted to run the idea of a final painting session (we haven’t met since before March 13th) by me. I had to say I didn’t think it was a good idea, even though she said no food would be served. It’s just not time yet. Community spread seems to be through gatherings; shopping turns out to be safer. In social settings, we forget ourselves, we are closer, and more animated. (We can thank covid 19 for making shopping for groceries and toilet paper exciting.) Still in Safeway or Save-on, it’s easier to physical distance. (If you want to.) Another friend is trying but turning into a rebel, breaking rules, and going into stores to buy almost necessities. It’s hard.

Being sick is hard, too. So is having someone in extended care, in the ICU, or on a ventilator. Young people who look to be in perfect health may have underlying conditions- diabetes, asthma, multiple sclerosis. The list could go on. Without being too preachy, hang in there. Better and I quote “to have a real visit” than to stop by to see a tombstone. Harsh words but true.

Another day of being the Stay Home Nazi. It’s kind of an unsung and unappreciated role. I will struggle on and try to be as strict with myself. Stay safe and stay home.

There Are Always Glitches.

I recently treated myself to a new iPad, planning to use it, I confess, for scrolling, for writing, and viewing cute dog videos. Because it was expensive, (Apple products are), I thought I would get it set up by a professional at an Apple Store.

When I approached the technician, I made the mistake of saying I had purchased the iPad from Best Buy.

“O,” he said. “We don’t do that for products not purchased at an Apple Store.”

My first impulse was to “go off” on him but then I realized he was busy and an employee at the bottom of the food chain who didn’t make policies.

Instead, I said, ‘What??!! I’m going to phone Steve Jobs…”

“On her ouija board,” interrupted my son who was with me.

With his help and my own iPhone, setting the new device up was easy, although it did involve a little of the obsessive-compulsive, on my part.

My daughter gave me the keyboard I requested for Christmas. Today I wanted to send the Pages document I had written to my PC to print. The old version of the word processing program used to convert the document to Word, no issues. (I should mention I’m cheap and didn’t buy a wifi enabled printer.) Not so, the new Pages.

Particular frustration ensued when the pop-up message announcing the end of support for my Word 2010 in October 2020. Now I will have to buy an subscription (to the tune of $79 annually) if I want to used Word. Gah. I have a lot of my “treasured” writing in Word so I have to open the mothy wallet.

I’m waiting to see what other “surprises” are in store. I do like the iPad and I like Word. I just didn’t expect to do things myself or to buy Office 365. It’s a new Year.

Finally, a hummingbird

For years now, my husband and I have engaged in futile efforts to attract a humming- bird (or in fantasies) hummingbirds to the yard. There are trees around and every year I try to plant flowers that will attract the illusive little birds. This season it was some scarlet runner beans. They climbed up the metal trellis I put behind them and dutifully produced the red flowers. No hummingbirds.

We have had crows, magpies, and blue jays. They are large enough to escape the small hawks which have taken up residence in our neighbourhood. There were few songbirds because- hawks. They might prey on hummingbirds, we theorized. Despite years of failure, a feeder with a sugar solution (and no red dye to harm anything that showed up) was hung. It’s been a year for the wasps and they had no trouble feeding on the artificial nectar.

IMG_3730 (3)
If you look at the right “flower” you can see one of our regular visitors.

I gave up but Gary kept watching and hallelujah one morning, he saw an elusive visitor. He tried not to be disappointed because it was a lone, small hummingbird, a female. It was single and in fragile health he thought. Our hummingbird didn’t hover, but sat to feed. It wasn’t much bigger than the wasps but she wasn’t intimidated by them.

After observing her several times (me, even a couple), and consulting the “bird book” and Mr. Google, we determined that our little green bird was indeed, a female Calliope hummingbird. And here she is. I wish I could say the photo was mine but it isn’t. She is very dainty and soon will be headed south.

images

Again, thanks to google, I can tell you that she is, weighing about as much as a ping-pong ball, the smallest, long-distance migratory bird in the world. Calliope humming-birds winter in Mexico and then in spring fly up the Pacific Coast. Our little girl is out of her range since we are farther east than this hummingbird species is usually found; Calliope hummingbirds are more likely to summer in BC. Soon she will make her way back along the Rockies to Mexico, a round-trip of 5,000 miles.

Calliopes are feisty little birds and have been seen chasing red-tail hawks. We will be looking anxiously next spring for the return of our little hummingbird. Surely she is not an anomaly; surely she will bring a mate and maybe friends.

 

Apple Pie Procrastination

There are two apple trees in our yard; they are mature and produce lots of apples high up in the branches. If this was a normal year, the fruit on the far tree would be just ready. This wasn’t a normal year and the apples are scarred from hail and were ready way sooner than most years. I managed, with a bit of a threat to life and limb, to pick enough for, get this, one pie. I knew I wanted to make some pies; I freeze them and if there is a special occasion or if it’s a nasty winter day, I’ll pull one out and voila! a treat. I did procrastinate just a little and when I went to pick the apples, a lot had already dropped. The ones left were hard to reach and as I said, scarred and overripe. I made a pie anyway and it’s in the freezer.

pie

And here it is. I channeled my mom just a little. Any time she made a pie, the extra bit of pastry was turned into a little bit of art, usually mimicking a poinsettia. So there it is- I cheated and used a cookie cutter but there is a decoration on this single pie from this year’s apples.

There were a few left over so I googled a recipe and made an apple-cheddar loaf. Canadian Living has the best recipes that taste good, aren’t crazy to make, and turn out. The loaf was pronounced pretty good, and “I may have a slice of that for breakfast.” The husband isn’t good with new flavours. I’m not suggesting that there is anything unique or unusual about the loaf but it does taste good.

IMG_2253

And here it is, under wraps because I tried a slice before I remembered to take a picture. If you want to try the loaf, click here for the  recipe.

I realize it is the May Long Weekend…sigh. We aren’t doing anything and for the people camping, it isn’t the best of weather. Weather didn’t used to stop us. Before retirement, it was the last hurrah of summer. If like me, you’re home this long weekend, get your apples while you can. Pies and apple bread.

 

The Little Hazard Golf Course

The Capt. Ayre Lake website lists, as one of its amenities, a “rugged golf course.” What it doesn’t do is explain that the course is a challenging nine holes carved out of the dry, tough grass and cactus covered prairie. Bushes and stunted trees abound and from hole 3 there is a nice view of a pristine pond and beaver dam. The fairways are so hard this time of year, that even a moderately hit hay burner bounces and rolls, well, a country mile. The greens, themselves, are sand greens hieing back to a simpler time when small town golf courses used oiled sand as greens. Players were responsible for raking and smoothing the green after putting so that the next group had a good surface, too.

The best part, to my parsimonious heart? The green fees were $3 for the nine holes. You do get your three dollars worth. In three rounds my golfing partner and I managed to lose a ball down the middle of the fairway. We looked and looked and finally concluded, improbably, that it had gone down a gopher hole. I spent some time looking for balls I’d whacked into the bush. My partner found seven that were not mine in the trees at the side of one insanely narrow approach to the green. Numerous tees snapped off in the hard ground. Wasps buzzed around threatening to spoil yet another great drive. One of my shots went into a steep little ravine populated by dry, thorny plants. I almost fell retrieving the ball. Putts were demanding. The sand on the greens is no longer oiled or even worked up. Your shot just bounces along and depends on luck.

Despite its obvious opportunity for frustrations, the course offered some definite advantages. We were the only players. There was no course marshal to hurry you along, no impatient players hoping to play through as we hopeless duffers searched for yet another lost ball. It was like a chance to commune with nature. Butterflies and birds. A flash to the past with its outhouses, where  pulling down the toilet tissue in one brought out a promethea moth which, unused to daytime activity, fluttered away in confusion. A good drive or putt seemed especially rewarding considering the challenges.

It seems you don’t need to be at Pebble Beach or one of the Trump (perish the thought) courses to enjoy a round with the clubs. If you want to have fun, you will and the Little Hazard Golf Course provided it in abundance.

30581881_10216127532490733_3119671391192875008_o
Capt. Ayre Lake- cool, clean water and a great sandy bottom.

images
Promethea moth- there are 13,000 species.